Product Subscriptions Overview

When subscriptions are enabled for a product, customers are able to set up a recurring automatic purchase during checkout - such as an shipment of body wash every month. This allows customers more flexibility with setting up future "continuity" orders in advance, drives more regular sales, and allows product inventory to be replenished at a cadence. This feature also lets them test out the product for a trial period in advance of their full subscription.

Subscriptions are offered as part of a eCommerce+OMS implementation, as well as a standalone product that does not include Kibo's eCommerce storefront or Order Management. The standalone Subscriptions implementation still requires customer and catalog data such as discounts and products to be configured.

For schemas of API calls associated with Subscriptions, see the API documentation. For information about the reporting that is available for subscription data, see the Reporting documentation.

How Subscriptions Work

During checkout, customers will be able to subscribe to a product at a selected frequency or make a one-time purchase instead if the product supports both options. A single subscription can have multiple items in it, and if the customer places an order with multiple subscription items with the same frequency then those items will be converted into a single subscription to reduce shipping costs and consolidate fulfillment. 

After that initial order, continuity orders will be created for those subscription items at regular intervals determined by the subscription's frequency. This is achieved with an internal process that runs every 30 minutes to scan every active subscription and create orders for those whose Next Order Date is less than or equal to the current date.

Subscriptions are always in one of the following statuses. 

  • Pending: The initial order has been created but not yet validated. This only happens when a subscription is created via API but has not yet been activated.
  • Active: The subscription has been placed and is ongoing. 
  • Paused: The customer has requested to temporarily stop the subscription, so no orders will be processed until it is moved back into Active status.
  • Errored: A problem prevented the subscription from being placed, often a payment error. To move the subscription out of this state, retry the errored action (which will move the subscription to the Active status if successful) or make a Subscription Action API call for the "Activate" action.
  • Failed: A continuity order was not successfully created after a period of retry attempts, so the Next Order Date was not updated and and further continuity orders will not be attempted. If a complete order is successfully placed via the Order Now action, the subscription will return to the Active state. 
  • Cancelled: The customer has ended their subscription and there will be no further shipments.

Diagram of the subscriptions workflow: Pending, Active, Paused, Cancelled, and Errored

Trial Periods

Subscriptions also support trials, an optional period of time in which the customer can try out a product after they first sign up for a subscription. The length of this trial period is configured at the product level, and thus can vary between different products. 

When configuring these trials, a separate product code can also be linked so that the item that is shipped for the trial is a smaller or alternate version of the parent product they will receive when the actual subscription begins. When the customer opts into a trial, the parent product they selected in their order will be swapped out with the trial version of the product but will still inherit the frequency and fulfillment type. After the trial is over, they will receive the parent product on a recurring basis. Although trial products default to a quantity of 1, the recurring orders will fulfill the original quantity of the parent product that the customer selected.

Note that if two items are added to the cart that use the same trial product but there is a different substitute product, product variation, or product option, then the trial products will be added as a separate line items.